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The Sunshine State comprises a number of different regions, many of which have been branded with poetic names for advertising purposes:  Nature Coast, First Coast, Space Coast, Gold Coast, Emerald Coast, Treasure Coast, and Suncoast*.  Then there is North Central Florida, which is slowly working its way towards becoming The Heart of Florida.  The branding isn’t being aggressively pushed, so it may be some time coming.

Branding a region gives it an identity beyond geographical location.  The Heart of Florida sounds like a vital place to visit; in comparison, North Central Florida seems pretty mundane.  I worked on a festival last year whose name the director immediately switched after seeing how non-descriptive the logo would be.  When changed to Heart of Florida, he was able to incorporate a heart shape into his advertising and it was all the more visually compelling for it.

Since change takes time, I thought it would be fun to solicit suggestions for branding some areas within the region. It doesn’t matter if you live in Florida or not; since when did distance stop an ad agency? Imagine your slogan on a bumpersticker, along the lines of Taxation without Representation (DC), Great Potatoes, Tasty Destinations (Idaho), and Kansas, As Big As You Think.  As you can see, it is possible for a slogan to be so bad that it’s genius.

A slogan can have nothing or everything to do with the state it represents: What does Seize the Day Off have to do with Maryland? Yet, Wide Open suits Nevada perfectly; once outside either Vegas or Reno there simply isn’t anything out there but dust devils.

There is absolutely no need to rebrand Florida; it is one of only a few states that has stuck with its original slogan and I hope it continues to do so.  What I am suggesting is a need to work from the inside out and help along the folks who want to bring important tourist dollars to the Heart of Florida area.  Therefore, I am taking slogan suggestions for any county, city, lake, river, stream, mildly rolling hill, ditch, swamp, rut in the road in the 11 counties included in the Heart of Florida designation.

I submit the redneck-y Orange Lake–Kickin’ Bass! even though this is not the most original idea.  I am not on the same creative plane as the person who dreamed up New Jersey’s Come See for Yourself.  If this is what is required, I’m in trouble.  I might spend weeks agonizing over a slogan for Palatka, like Wow, Palatka! or It’s Really Pretty Here When the Azaleas Bloom On Time.

In the meantime, here are some photographs for inspiration:

Alachua.

Biven’s Arm, Gainesville, as seen from the deck of Chopstix Cafe.

Northern edge of Lake Lochloosa.

Eastern edge of Lake Lochloosa.

Lake City.

Gainesville, heading south on the 441.  An old sign for Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg.  This would have been over a three-hour drive away.

*I am not sure why “Suncoast” is a noun and the others are adjective-noun combinations.

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